Salary wars: Kirkland puts UK associates on US pay scale

Kirkland & Ellis has joined the US salary wars by putting its UK associates on its new US pay scale, handing newly-qualified lawyers $180,000 (£124,000).

The firm is the latest to up its salaries after Cravath Swaine & Moore raised its New York base pay for New York first-year associates from $160,000 to $180,000 – the first increase since 2007.

Kirkland confirmed in an internal memo seen by Lawyer 2B that it was matching Cravath’s pay rise. It had already announced the raise for US associates earlier this week.

On the new pay scale, Kirkland NQ, or ‘Class of 2015’ lawyers in both the US and UK will receive $180,000. One-year post-qualification (PQE) lawyers will receive $190,000 with further increases to $280,000 (£192,500) for five-year PQE associates.

The increases will take effect on 1 July and are exclusive of bonuses.

Level New York pay scale Sterling conversion 
1st year associate /NQ $180,000 £124,000
2nd year associate /1PQE $190,000 £130,500
3rd year associate /2PQE $210,000 £144,500
4th year associate /3PQE $235,000 £161,500
5th year associate /4PQE $260,000 £179,000
6th year associate /5PQE $280,000 £192,500

Kirkland said UK salaries would now be dollar-based and would fluctuate month-by-month depending on the exchange rate. It is also making adjustments to pay for its non-equity partners.

Other firms to match Cravath’s pay hike include Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy. However Shearman & Sterling’s pay rise last week saw UK NQ associates handed an 8 per cent rise to £95,000.